On December 14th and 15th, Bare Bones art gallery hosted the first official Rising Mob of Bristol. This two-day juried art fair featured local artists and vendors, selling one-of-a-kind and hand-made creations, ideal for alternative style holiday gifts.
The crowd helped us support local artists, including Heather Dann, Ryan Dolan, Erika Novak, Sarah Nichols, Matt Guerrette, Ginger Grant, David Woodford, Nigel Wynter and Nick Palazzo and vendors, including A.Muse Emporium of Loveliness, Brazen Betties, and Hartford Prints. The artists and vendors gained a revenue of over $1,000, of which Bare Bones was supported by a 20% commission.
We also partnered with Gino’s pizza to offer discounted refreshments and hosted a raffle where the dozens of visitors could put in a ticket for prizes from The Barley Vine, Hamelin and Son, Dunkin Donuts, Matt Guerrette, Ginger Grant, Mary Kay and Jesse Jablon.
We had a wonderful time and couldn’t have found such success without the involvement of the community and local creators. We hope to repeat this type of event and are proud to have accomplished what we feel Rising Mobs is all about–giving the crowd something new and in-demand while boosting local small businesses. We want to thank everyone behind the scenes and everyone so willing to come out!
Look forward to the next art fair! To apply for a vendor position contact us on facebook.
Name: Robin Messerli
Hey there, Bristol Risers!
The Bare Bones has officially secured the lease with the Bristol Historical Society and the property owner at 184 Main St. Bristol! Thanks to the society for all the confidence and support! The lease will be effective for three months at a discounted rent under the Historical Society’s insurance. Renaissance has committed to pay the rent and insurance costs for those first three months. We will be looking for other sponsorship, grants or partnerships or considering becoming our own LLC or Co-op after October if the then month-to-month lease is not carried out by The Historical Society.
Mike Triplett, the property owner, expects to have the place ready to turn over by August 1st with a handicap accessible bathroom, a sink in the back, gorgeous exposed brick and appropriate lighting. We’ll be building the counter, hanging art and loading in donated furniture before open.
If we’re open by the Pop Up Piazza event, we will be hosting the registration for the Bare Bones 5k inside! This race will be held the morning of the Piazza event (starting at 9am) to attract another niche audience. The idea came from Charles Cyr who has a passion for running and has been mapping the route for the run and talking to the proper authorities about traffic safety. There will be a $5 donation per runner to the Historical Society for the Bare Bones. We’re asking for donated water and prizes, so if you know anyone willing to help, let us know! (If the inside is not registration-friendly, we still plan to be set up outside.)
If you have yet to vote for the Bare Bones on the survey site, make sure you do! We have reached out first 100 votes–what a milestone! Keep the votes coming, because they’re an important way to register support.
Check out our new logo by Sarah Johnson on our Facebook page:
Name: Robin Messerli
The price of an artistic masterpiece is subjective. You can’t get a loan unless you’ve already had some financial success. There’s an equation to determine whether or not polluting a lake is worth the financial return. You don’t put a monetary measurement to the benefit of donating mosquito nets to malaria-ridden countries. To me, a lot of business does not compute. Einstein, however, often reminds me that “Not everything that counts can be counted.” And that, my friends, is the impetus for implementing a Triple Bottom Line into the way we do business, counting financial, social and environmental profit.
People in the US, an entrepreneurial country rich with risk and ingenuity, have more instincts about business than most realize. Studying culture tells us that an individual is mostly good, but collectively, people are perfectly capable of building and supporting failing, corrupt, or unjust systems—systems like slavery, child labor, or third world debt. We know there’s something broken about the stock market, the housing market, the food industry, but does everyone realize that the Triple Bottom Line is the answer? No. Most have never heard this term before, nor have they heard the terms ‘corporate social responsibility’ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corporate_social_responsibility),‘social entrepreneurship’ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_entrepreneurship) or ‘sustainability’ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sustainability).
In my own words, CSR, or corporate social responsibility, is the idea that a corporation is responsible for all social impacts, good or bad, that their business affects on everyone connected to that business. This means they are responsible to all customers, suppliers, employees, owners, etc., and should the company be one of those “too big to fail,” where the whole country relies on the success and stability of that company, this means they are responsible for the impacts on every citizen of that country (and even those countries affected by the economic fluctuations of the US market). Bernie Madoff’s CSR is completely non-existent. Businesses like ENRON, Worldcom, Lehman Brothers, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac produced very little of substance. The fact that they once had high numbers was an illusion and did nothing to truly grow our economy. That’s why we call these systems bubbles—they can blow up to incredible sizes, but they are held together by a weak film, once they pop, nothing is left behind, and they are guaranteed to eventually burst. Responsible? I think not. Childish, perhaps—a suit and tie don’t promise maturity.
Social entrepreneurship is a term for any new business or new way of doing business, for profit or not, that’s core mission is to solve a social problem, not generate monetary profit. Philanthropy is a great way of giving back, but using your core competency to create true value in what you do is worth much more. My professor used to say, “You give a man a fish, he eats for a day; you teach a man to fish, he eats for a lifetime; social entrepreneurs, they revolutionize the fishing industry.” Ben and Jerry’s initially refused to pay their top employee more than seven times what their lowest-paid employee made. Granted they’re selling unhealthy food, but their organizational structure really made waves. More Fortune 500’s should take note of the efforts of this ice cream company from Vermont. Many companies can use creative marketing to make themselves seem like a socially-oriented company, but most don’t count as a social entrepreneurship. Apple advertises that their products are the most energy efficient, but their product lifecycle leads customers to buy the latest version of the iPod or Macbook much more often than their competitors, creating more waste. Not every business is designed to change the world, but every business should do what they can.
Sustainability in economics refers to a company’s ability to remain operating, which yes, requires financial return. However, social and environmental sustainability trump the need for cash in the overall desire for people to sustain a healthy living. Though not as simple to measure, we rely more heavily on human and environmental resources than we do on the fabricated system of cash. Money is just one way to account for the impacts of a business. Creating fake GDP hurts the economy worse than anything. It’s the antithesis of sustainability. But there aren’t yet enough ways to account for the impacts a business has on the planet and on the people involved. The first rule you learn about business is that you can’t expend more than you produce—that’s why creators are the best business people, the best sustainers. Even though it’s murky to determine the subjective value of art, the practice is still fulfilling, producing a more positive social impact than a desk job, usually reuses old materials, and creates a product that generates some sort of benefit to not just the owner but anyone who sees, reads, or watches it. Some art changes the world’s culture and can influence people to live more sustainably.
Here’s a quick list of a few more terms everyone should know about business:
In economics, an externality (or transaction spillover) is a cost or benefit, not transmitted through prices, incurred by a party who did not agree to the action causing the cost or benefit. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Externality)
A shareholder or stockholder is an individual or institution (including a corporation) that legally owns one or more shares of stock in a public or private corporation. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shareholder)
Stakeholder (corporate), a person, group, organization, or system who affects or can be affected by an organization’s actions (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stakeholder)
As long as consumers support better business, the ones that live up to the highest CSR standards will thrive, creating the most benefit to all stakeholders. It’s all about demand. We have to think twice about supporting businesses that create negative externalities for the sake of their shareholder’s wallets. The labor market is supposed to be a mutually beneficial contract, not a dictatorship where the suppliers of labor bend over backwards to sell themselves short. Minimum wage should meet minimum expenses. The benefit of driving a car should outweigh the cost of gas, polluting the air, and the risk of having an accident on congested streets. Should, should, should. The Triple Bottom Line is what could change all that. Ford used to be held to pretty low standards—a customer can order a Model T in any color, “as long as it’s black.” Standards have clearly risen.
Sure we could try to regulate businesses more heavily through the government, but let’s be serious—business is more powerful than government. We could try to elect Tea Partiers, newbies, those who haven’t been corrupted by the system, but would they even be experienced enough to recognize the manipulations and know the implications of their votes? We could try a revolution, destroy the existing system, but if you think our economy will survive something like that or that we’ll be guaranteed a better system through the devastation, then I’m not the only one with a pipe dream. Consumer education can change the way people buy, and that is something we can productively lobby for. The most successful economies are built on technology and information, not on manufacturing consumerism. It’s better to donate $100 to support wind energy than to spend $100 on a commodity that was manufactured using $200 worth of energy and waste management. Buying “stuff” doesn’t support the kind of economy that the world superpower ought to have. It’s not a hippie diatribe—it’s business sense. We need to figure out better ways of letting the economy’s most influential people–consumers–know what externalities their spending money creates.
One of the most important lessons to learn about the Triple Bottom Line and this whole new trend of responsible business is the lesson of how we live. Twenty years ago, people my age graduated from college and bought houses with two-car-garages on credit in the suburbs. Now, people my age live with our parents in the suburbs, wishing we didn’t have to drive somewhere every time we run out of milk. Homes produce the largest percentage of emissions, so it makes sense to house more people per home the same way it makes sense to carpool instead of driving separately. Building walkable, urban areas for the majority of the population (who don’t need 3,000 square feet and an acre of land anyway) just makes sense. It decreases the environmental impact, saves money on resources, and creates a better social community—a community that puts money back into the support of good businesses. Revolution? Maybe not. Responsible? You better believe it.
Believe in Bristol.
We can show the world what good business can achieve. It might seem new and strange and like another gimmick to sell stuff, but there are ways to find out how many lines this development is attempting to grow and to sustain. What’s more socially responsible than allowing everyone to have a say? What’s more entrepreneurial than supporting the creation of independently owned businesses down town? It’s taken hundreds of years to start measuring this Triple Bottom Line, and clearly businesses have not figured it all out just yet. There’s a long way to go before business truly creates more than it spends, but higher standards are pushing us toward that rule. Why would we want to invest in continuing the broken system of profit before planet instead of revisiting what we know generates less waste? It will take a lot of knowledge to nail the Triple Bottom Line down—a lot of work and a lot of experimentation. Well, we’re perfecting our union, people. If you’re not willing to roll up your sleeves, don’t stand in the way of those who are. But if you think you know how to help this project increase its positive impact, join the crowd.
Name: Robin Messerli
Most of you have probably heard by now that The Historical Society has graciously agreed to act as the leaseholder of the space on Main St. for the first three months! We are very grateful to the Society and expect to make them proud. A huge thanks to everyone who made this partnership possible so far!
For more details on our Mission Statement, Goals and Operations, join the Fluid Store-front group on Bristol Rising here: http://bristolrising.com/group/fluidstorefront
To get more involved, just leave us a comment after this blog!
Name: Robin Messerli
Bikes in Bristol Event
submitted by Andy
Motorcycles are showcased similar to the car show that has been on North Main Street. Owners are welcomed to show case their bike. Local organizations can sell food. DJ or band with music for entertainment. Raffle a motorcycle.
Local Music Festival
submitted by Evan Robidoux
I know a lot of musicians from around Bristol from just Bristol Eastern alone, and I’m pretty sure there are MANY others.
And I think it would be great if we could gather Bristol’s musical talent at a live gathering, perhaps in the piazza. Bristol Eastern did a musical festival showcasing their talent called Java & Jazz, and the two years I attended it, the room was packed with guests. Imagine what kind of crowd we could draw to a show done by ALL of Bristol’s musicians across all kinds of genres!
I think this could also be a starting point for launching a few successful musical careers.
Earth Day–Trash Clean Up
submitted by me
Dave from Nuchies helped change his community in the most simple way–he got a reputation by picking up trash around town. With a few trash bags and a bunch of volunteers wearing Bristol Rising shirts, we can get some positive attention around Bristol by picking up trash around town and showing we care. Earth Day is April 22, the perfect time of year. (Let me know if you’re involved with any groups that would like to help organize!)
submitted by me, Lindsay Vigue, and Michelle St. Pierre
Bristol Rising is about getting people to dream, to let go of their inhibitions about whether or not Bristol can change for the better. However, Bristol Rising also needs to be about getting things done, getting people used to the idea of shopping locally and spending time downtown sooner rather than later. It’s never too early to start creating a cultural feel in the location that we wish to shape, by establishing a temporary storefront space (leased by Renaissance Downtowns) to demonstrate what a Main Street business could be, as well as host Bristol Rising events.
Volunteers will maintain the day-to-day operations of the store and local artists will rent work space to keep the place lively. Everyone will bring their own mug to hang on the wall for when they want to socialize around a pot of coffee, and there will be a BYOB policy for certain events. Furniture will be eclectic and donated, along with books and other items. Eventually, many events can be held throughout the day, promoting other local businesses and building the community.
Bristol Historical Trivia
Board game night
High school battle of the bands
Green thumb lessons
Bristol rising meetings!
Name: Robin Messerli
I walk into a local coffee shop, crowded and cold, I sit down on a hard wooden chair, ergonomically upsetting to my short legs, and I pull out the Kindle that I got for Christmas (Thanks Dad), filled with complimentary classics. This store was born and raised with the image of a hip place for caffeine-addicted pseudo-intellectuals to sip their over-priced coffee, grown and harvested by underpaid African farm-workers, while reading about genocide in the New York Times. The employees are supposed to act inappropriately familiar with the customers, greeting them with terms of endearment that I wouldn’t even let my boyfriend address me with until after a few months. The employees receive decent benefits but still have to put up with bosses who aren’t local, crappy hours, and an old-fashioned fixed corporate business structure. There’s no true benefit from having this cloned chain sitting in the middle of town, strangling the potential competitive advantage of a young entrepreneur who doesn’t believe that coffee from a pot should be burned, should be anything but fair-trade, or should be likely to turn a customer’s nervous system into a jittery slew of eye twitches.
But I’m here because I know I’ll run into some friends.
Is it too much to ask for a business to serve its community? Grow big and they exploit their suppliers, under-appreciate their employees and fail to provide the best product or service to consumers. Then gas prices go up, costs increase, and they sacrifice value instead of innovating their mission statement. I feel guilty everyday for feeling the need to drive five miles for an artificial atmosphere fabricated on an assembly line by the minds of men in suits–men who don’t realize they’ve lost the race to keep up with the trend of the latest business world. It no longer makes sense to operate a large business of branches reliant on international delivery and dictatorial codes of culture no matter the local market. None of my friends benefit from the art they hang on the walls, the cookie cutter “indie” albums by the register, the commodity products on the shelves, or the distracting ambiance of florescent lights and white noise.
But I can’t get any reading done at home.
I was born in Bristol Hospital and aside from the torture that is middle school, the public education system in this town served me well. I went to an internationally competitive business college outside of Boston and considered myself lucky to get out of such a lousy town that it didn’t even have a movie theater. At college, I learned about the Triple Bottom Line, sustainability, and social entrepreneurship. I learned that stakeholders are more important than shareholders, that the market will be hostile to businesses that don’t truly serve a good function. My classmates have started their own businesses and gone off to join the peace corps. Or they’ve worked a year for an accounting firm, unhappily, before getting into a much more satisfying field. After I got my degree, I spent seven months living on my own in Paris in order to expand my cultural education, and now that I’ve come back to my home town with a bit more education and perspective (and hopefully maturity) I see things differently.
I’m starting to think about the world my children will grow up in and how I want to raise them. I don’t want them to worry about massive floods or that a trip to the doctor is too expensive because of a broken insurance system. I don’t want them to be in debt before they know what ‘subprime’ means. I don’t want them eating bags of modified corn products and milk with bacteria and growth hormones. I don’t want them to have plastic toys and plastic friends and mind-numbing iPods. I don’t want my children to be coddled, to never know how to deal with a bully, to never know how to live off the land or what the land means to them. Will they have diabetes before they learn what glucose is in school? Will they idolize Disney stars who are tossed aside after puberty and criticized for questioning a contract signed before they knew what a trademark was? I can choose to be the biggest control freak ever, or I could choose to live in a town where certain ideas will surround my children daily. My parents did a great job with me and my three sisters, but this world isn’t getting any safer on its overpopulated inhabitants.
Bristol is my home and I wish it were a place able to thrive for the next generation.
While sitting in this store, I can’t help but reflect on how my generation has gotten the short end of the stick–student loans without job prospects, knowledge without power. We walked into adulthood during foreclosures and bailouts–major financial bubbles bursting that we foresaw while irresponsible business and government looked away. We can no longer afford to see the world’s resources as unlimited, and we see before our eyes Mother Nature’s revenge in full blizzardy fury. We’re trapped in a system that insists “reduce, reuse, recycle,” means reducing the middle class, reusing the political dramas of the cold war, and recycling only 1′s and 2′s while practically everything we throw away has one of those little triangles on it. We were taught to believe that the American Dream is a house in the suburbs and a new car, both bought on credit, but in the backs of our underutilized brains, we know that’s inefficient and unrealistic. We have overproduced desires and undernourished ideas. Slaves to an era of marketing machines and half OK with it.
My ideals may be with my friends in Rwanda, Nicaragua, and Mali, but I’m sitting in this coffee shop for a reason.
I used to live across the street from the Bingham school. Closed. I had a paper route with the Bristol Press. Just nearly salvaged. For a few years, my mother managed Dunphy’s Ice Cream Parlor. Open during warm weather months but unable to create jobs. For a few summers during college, I helped repair horse blankets for a small family-owned business operating out of the factory building off Center Street. They’ve since moved to Plainville. In high school, we hung out in parking lots and at the Music Shop. Closed. My friends and I went to the movies in Plainville, shopped at the mall in Farmington, and had parties in the woods in Burlington. Now we hang out at local coffee shops (shop), work in sales or retail in West Harftord, and go to bars and shows in Hartford and New Haven. No matter the economy, Bristol has built strong roots for me–providing jobs whenever I’ve looked hard enough. My family is here and my lifelong friendships are here. We know about the ecological complications of the future, but we still drive everywhere, even on trips to Boston, Northampton, or NYC. We might live in our parent’s houses and take advantage of their health care. If we’re lucky. We might spend a majority of our income on rent. We were targeted by credit card companies at a young age and probably don’t qualify for loans. We are artists, writers, and musicians. We work for ourselves or can’t stand cubicle work for too long.
We don’t all feel this helpless and aren’t all this cynical, but we were raised to believe that we all do deserve better. We are all dreamers.
We dream of a Saturday afternoon, enjoying a picnic consisting of fresh produce we picked up at the farmer’s market, taking our dogs to the park, and playing some tennis, basketball or frisbee before walking home to get ready for the night. We’d all like to be able to walk to the live music venue where our friends are opening for a respectable band, walk over to the local bar and then walk back home, safely. We’d like to live down the street from where we work and take pride in our public spaces. We’d love to own our own businesses and raise our children in a town they aren’t embarrassed by. When our kids go off to college, instead of lying about where they come from, they’ll bring their friends back to this community and convince them to move back here with them after school. We want our home to represent the bright and individualistic population. We want to learn how to connect our dreams to reality. How to attract attention to our art. How to make good financial decisions and where to invest our small savings. We want the tools to make a living from our lives. We want to be happy and in better harmony with nature, not owned by our employers and jaded. We want sustainable, local businesses grown organically by true demand from the people.
We want the culture that we have to be reflected by downtown Bristol.
I know how to write a business plan. I know how to get a band gigs. I know marketing concepts. I know how to pursue multiple streams of revenue. I know how to use core competencies to create good value, not just numbers. I know how to differentiate. I know what we need in order to turn our dreams into feasible plans. I learned skills that could be used to help lift struggling countries out of poverty through entrepreneurship, and I can’t imagine a life that isn’t dedicated to helping others. But I want a home life, a stable foundation. Until recently, I thought I’d have to move somewhere else to incorporate my education with how I want to live. I know concepts, and in deciding where to practice putting them into action, it’s a relief to know I can do that here. I know how placemaking can help this town. I “got out” of Bristol, but I have never found a home anywhere else.
Now that I’m involved with Bristol Rising, my ideals have come home, and they aren’t sitting in Starbucks.
Name: Robin Messerli
You’ve signed up for Bristol Rising and feel great about it, but now what can you do to help make the revitalization of our downtown area a community effort? A group for promotions was created and now it needs your involvement. The group will be a useful way to brainstorm ideas, organize events, and spread the word about Bristol Rising.
If you haven’t done it yet, make sure to vote for at least ten of the submitted ideas on the survey website (http://bristolrisingsurvey.com) and because internal promotion is important too, go bother other members to make sure they’ve voted! We need to try to keep up to the goal of 88 ‘likes’ on some of these ideas by February 8th. If each current member completes their votes, that’s almost 3000 total votes, and we don’t have 1000 yet. Sounds like someone’s holding out. The whole point of signing up is to get the community’s opinion–make sure you’re vocal about it!
Also, don’t forget to support upcoming events like Lindsay’s Generation Y Gathering and Beer Tasting on February 23rd and the dinner at Nuchie’s on March 3rd. Know anyone who would like to host an event or donate coupons for participation? Direct them to this group page.
The group is here:
And a discussion with the title “Promotion Ideas–Running List” is here:
Now go change your facebook status to something about Bristol Rising!
Please ; P
This announcement was brought to you by the letter P.
Name: Robin Messerli